- City of Seattle/State of WA
- United States of America
Since 1984, a cookie-cutter approach to handling Domestic Violence has caused an unfair upheaval for many citizens. Though throughout previous years the law was put in tact for those victims who would continue to take the abuse of their partners and would never confess or report it.
But here is how strict and cookie-cutter the DV laws are: Per the law, a Mandatory Arrest is made once an officer responds to a Domestic Violence call- even if the victim was not the one that placed that call. Also, the accused is immediately slapped with a 2-yr No-Contact order with the victim and even their children if applicable. Once an arrest is made, it is now the Defendent vs The City. The 'victim' is now considered a 'witness' and has no say in the matter. They cannot request charges to not be filed/to be dropped and they can attempt to request lifting of the No Contact Order, but prosecutors and judges never budge.
No Contact includes no writing, email, phone, or third-party communication whatsoever. No matter what the circumstances, they treat it as if it were murder. The defendent, even without prior history of violence and with no injuries inflicted, is given jail time, fines, a no-contact order, and even DV treatment. They also have to fork out thousands of dollars for a good attorney, as the public defender works for the prosecuting attorney's office and honestly does not work to fight for the defendent as they are not being paid. The victim's advocate treats the 'victim' as if they were abused and afraid, even if that is not really the case. It has disrupted so many lives and caused so much grief and upheaval for families who don't deserve to go through all of this punishment- because it's not just punishment for the accused, but for their loved ones, their job, school, friends, and so on.
A DV case can last months and cause extreme and unneeded hardship for both parties. Domestic Violence is actually not the charge, but many degrees of assault, stalking, or harassment fall under this label. DV can be a public confrontation between 2 strangers or friends, or it can be between a couple in a relationship. Each situation, though drastically individual, is treated the same as the rest which is completely unjust and inhumane.
Please read the following linked article and responses of those who have been through it and you may see, in depth, what it is doing to families who don't deserve it.
There should be NO Mandatory Arrest if the accused (or either party for that matter) does not have a history of violence, there are no apparent injuries, and the victim does not wish for an arrest.
It should strongly be taken into consideration of who made the call and why. The stories should thoroughly be understood and clear without a biased or incomplete accusation of who is at fault.
No child under the age of 12 should be made a witness to such event as they are more vulnerable and their words & emotions can be easily misconstrued as they can tend to be less sensible.
If it is a first offense, there should be a psychological evaluation and counseling put in place to further diagnose the underlying issue of a heated argument- afterall, arguments take place due to personal struggles such as finance, stress, and depression that can usually be handled and treated.
Each case needs to be treated individually and humanely. The justice system needs to re-examine the various degrees of offense and set appropriate and fair standards accordingly.
The Reform for Domestic Violence Laws petition to City of Seattle/State of WA was written by Lori Burden and is in the category Law Reform at GoPetition.